Sweet tooth

Sam Dinsdale grew up in a household where the kitchen was the main focus. “My mum taught me to cook and my nana taught me to bake,” she says. At 16 she decided she wanted to be a chef, “so I finished school and went for it.”

Taking up a job offer from Gordon Ramsay, Sam went to London in 2006 and gave it her all. “I used to call it ‘running up the mountain’. You start work early, and you literally run until late at night. You barely stop to breathe. I love the passion that comes with being a chef.”

A decade later she ticked two life goals off her list: gaining British citizenship/dual nationality and winning a Michelin star. Then she realised she wanted to come home and work on her personal development. “I felt like the time had come to finish up in London and come home and be with my friends and family.” Sam loves Wellington and is “so happy to be back.”

While in London Sam strived to “work hard, be the best and make something outstanding at all times.” She says she’s realised that the pressure of being perfect and unique all the time is exhausting. These days she asks herself, “Do I love this? Yes? Ok let’s do it.”

Sam’s top five treats to satisfy a sweet tooth

Dulce de Leche Semifredo
Capitol Restaurant
This is seriously luscious. Semifreddo is always a winner after dinner for me. It satiates the sweet hankering without crossing the line into nausea. This dessert is the best combo of sweet, creamy and refreshing, and the crumbs really give it an edge. The dulce de leche is moreish, and this is definitely a must try.

Honey Anzac Biscuits
The Regal Shortbread
Anita Vogt loves baking and it shows through her Anzac biscuits. They have that important balance of crisp and chewy. I tried the original but was taken with the honey version – it was fragrant and original without straying too far from the classic. It’s best not to restrain yourself to one, dunked in tea or eaten straight.

Jasmin & Coconut Bubble Tea
Noahs Ark Tea House
Sometimes I like a bit of texture in my liquids. Soup is one option but bubble tea is always my option. Jasmine tea base with milk, finished with coconut, is everything I want in bubble tea – not too sweet, and wonderfully perfumed with tapioca balls. I enjoy wandering around Cuba St nursing this absolute delight and absent-mindedly chewing on the tapioca.

Caramel Slice
The Lab at Victoria University
Oh my stars. Best caramel slice ever! It is basically 90% caramel, with the base and top merely acting as tools to hold the caramel while it is being devoured. It’s super rich and I am fully prepared to take responsibility for my greediness and wallow in the sugar crash afterwards.

Passion Fruit Friand
Gipsy Kitchen
Friands should be rich, soft centred, and crisp-edged and this one ticks all the boxes. With the delicious sting of passionfruit swirled through the mix, I love this little delight. Also it is moreish and easy to get through. I am all in for this friand. I want at least two.

By Francesca Emms
Photography by Anna Briggs

Featured in Capital #53
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